005: High Ticket Systems And Support With Amber Vilhauer

Amber Vilhauer is an online digital marketing expert who supports authors, speakers and coaches to establish a powerful, integrated online presence that gets results and empowers them to make a difference in their industry. Since starting her agency, NGNG Enterprises (standing for No Guts No Glory) in 2007, she has spent her career impacting her community and building strong strategic alliances with industry leaders and game-changers across the web. Amber has supported more than one thousand entrepreneurs on six continents to get results. She is the launch manager dozens of #1 bestselling books including those for Mark Victor Hansen, Brendon Burchard, Lisa Nichols and Les Brown.

I’m opening up my private vault of unreleased interviews to kick off this podcast while I’m recording new episodes. This interview with Amber was recorded in 2016.




Sterling Valentine: We’re going to be talking to somebody who is very important, that you are really going to want to listen to. Amber Vilhauer is with us. Amber, thank you for joining us today.

Amber Vilhauer: I’m really excited to be here everybody, and you are in for such a treat. I fully support Sterling, and everything that he does. I mean, what an incredible topic. So we didn’t talk about me saying all of that, but I’ve been like really looking forward to this interview, and anytime I can spend with Sterling is happy time, so thanks for having me.

Sterling Valentine: Thanks for saying so Amber, and I want to read everybody, just quickly read Amber’s bio. This is a very condensed version, but she’s an online business mentor who supports authors, speakers, and coaches, to establish a powerful integrated online presence that gets results. I can attest to that, and empowers them to make a difference in their industry. 

She supports entrepreneurs through website development, list building strategies, product launches, and social media management. And the way I met Amber was actually through my buddy, Joel Comm, who had tapped into her vast resources to help him with a book launch, and we got to know each other, and I found out what a tremendous resource she was. So when I started to get to know her, I said we need to do a special session about supporting the rest of your business to be high ticket ready. So we have a lot of speakers that are discussing high ticket’s strategies, how to charge high ticket prices, what to give for high ticket prices.

But we didn’t really get into how to make the rest of your business, the wraparound of your business, be ready to support premium pricing and premium product offers. So Amber has such a vast knowledge and an incredible experience regarding supporting bestselling authors, and people who are really operating at a high level, not just high ticket level but high impact level as well. And so that’s why I wanted to really tap into her talents and find out how we can set up our business, so that when we are charging high ticket prices, and offering premium offers that we actually are in congruence, and match everything else with our business so that it’s all in alignment. Does that make sense, Amber? I mean, I know we’ve talked about that before.

Amber Vilhauer: Yeah, Absolutely, and I worked with a ton of clients who want to be high ticket, but they’re not there yet. That’s just their vision. So I work with clients who don’t even have a website yet, they just have a passion they want to get out to the world, voice the message they want to get out to the world. I have people who have a website, they have a presence, but it’s not really doing much for them. So they’re looking to step up their game. We have clients who have much more of a presence, but perhaps they didn’t set up the foundation to their business or their platform in the right way. So there were cracks, and there are issues happening in their business. It’s not as organized, it’s not flowing, it’s not easy for them, and they feel like they’re constantly putting out fires instead of focusing on scaling. 

And then I even have clients, at the top of the spectrum who have a really stable foundation to their platform, but they want to continue to grow and scale or tap into other areas. So I’ve been fortunate enough to work with all kinds of different people, and I really help to support them in whatever way they need at that time to get them to that next level. And I have so much fun doing it. So I’m happy to talk about anything that comes up today around that for sure.

Sterling Valentine: And the reason why we’re talking to Amber, is because when you set yourself up to offer premium pricing and premium product offers in your funnel, the expectation increases, right? The expectation of service delivery increases, perception is important, and you have to raise your game all the way around. 

So what I really want to get into are some of the ways that Amber supports her top bestselling author clients and find out how we can set our business up so that we are in congruence and alignment and everything flows, so that we’re charging high ticket prices, but we’re not causing this disconnect where people are saying, yeah, I’m paying high ticket, but I’m not really getting high ticket service, or it’s not appearing high ticket, in the rest of everything. And I think this is really critical.

So Amber, can you just give us a sense of where are the places in a coach’s, author’s, speaker’s, consultant’s business? Where are the places where we need the most make sure that we put a shine on everything? Where are some of the touchpoints that people first see us? And where do some of the clients you’ve seen or just other people go wrong and where can we drop the ball in this area?

Amber Vilhauer: Well, you nailed it. It’s really in the touchpoints, and that can be anything from email marketing, to social media, to somebody submitting a contact form inquiry on your website. I mean it’s really people’s first impression of you, how they’re trying to engage with you. And for example, you might be an entrepreneur that schedules out all of your social media through Hootsuite, let’s say. So pre-scheduling all of your posts, which means that you’re not actively engaging on these social networks, so let’s say that your following is replying to a post that you made and they’re commenting, they’re engaging with you, but because you’re not paying attention, you can’t engage back with them, and therefore it just doesn’t look like you’re very available in your business. 

I love Seth Godin actually, because, I don’t know if you know this, but when you submit an inquiry on his contact form, he personally responds to you. And that’s something that I do as well in my business. People are surprised when they hear back from me, but I’m the one that replies to the comments on social media, to all of the contact form inquiries, when anybody is signing up for our service menu, a discovery call, when I send out an email to my email list, and they reply to that email, I’m the one that gets that email and I reply back to them. 

So it’s really in all of those touchpoints. And you nailed it too when you said that when you charge a higher ticket price point, people expect more from you. They do expect more hand-holding or one-on-one support or more access to you. And that becomes tricky too because as we grow and scale our business, we can’t be everywhere at once, right? So how do we set up our business to give the perception that we’re there or how do we know the right areas to focus on and what we can hire out or delegate to our team?

So as an example, just to lead off of that, my team can handle a lot of the organizational admin back-end things, but I want to be somebody that handles that front-end communication with my audience, because the more you feel like you get access to Amber, that I’m personally engaging with you, that I checked out your website or that I really want to support you, the more important you feel, which means that now we have a bond and a connection, that means that you’re likely going to buy more from me, because you feel supported and bonus, you’re going to share me with other people. 

Word of mouth is still the top form of advertising that’s free, right? I mean, word of mouth probably accounts for 40% or 50% of my personal sales, and I know it’s because of the way people feel because I’m there for them. So that’s a huge part of it I think.

Sterling Valentine: I discovered something almost accidentally by calling my clients when they first buy something, even at like a $97 a month level, the first time that they purchased, I would call them because I found a lot of times people weren’t getting their links, for some reason it was going into their spam folder. I just wanted to make sure that everything went smoothly. Did you get your download links? I just wanted to let you know you bought from a real person and not a computer.

Amber Vilhauer: I bet they were shocked.

Sterling Valentine: You know, sometimes you have these drop the phone moments where they’d say, this isn’t really Sterling. I’d say well, who else? Why would I set it up to have somebody else call you other than myself? They say, I’ve never… I’ve paid thousands of dollars for something before, and I’ve never gotten a phone call. So I really kind of worked that into my process now that I just try to make a touchpoint, even if it’s at a lower price point level. I just try to make a reach out and touch and say, are you okay? That’s probably one of the strongest questions that you can just ask. Are you okay? Is everything set the way you wanted, did you get what you expected? Are there any questions that you have? And when you set that bar at the beginning, the funny thing is I was concerned that people would think, well, now they have to have access to me 24 hours a day. 

But the opposite is actually true. Once you sort of soothe that fear with people and they say, okay, so he called, he’s really there. There’s actually this real person, it’s not like a hologram or something, then most of the time your customers don’t worry so much anymore. And what’s interesting, and maybe you can shed some light on this, is that I found that the higher the price of the offer, the less needy the clients seem to be, right? It’s the $27 buyers. They’re like hey, I didn’t get my link, and I need this and I need that, you know, and my $5,000 and $10,000 clients are like, yeah, you’ll get to me when you get to me. I’m cool. You ever noticed that?

Amber Vilhauer: One hundred percent even in my own business, you know, I started out back in 2007 charging $35 an hour for my services, and I worked like a dog for the clients. I worked tirelessly on everything. They just needed so much extra hand-holding or support, or I think it was even more that I just didn’t feel their gratitude level was there, I mean it was just like they were not easy clients. But then when I started charging more and more, I started charging $75 an hour, $95 an hour and all of a sudden the type of clientele shifted, and I got way more respect, way more recognition. And now this price point that I’m in right now, I mean, I freaking love every single person that I work with. 

It’s amazing to me that I love my job so much, because of the people that I’ve attracted in. And I wonder, is there a tipping point to that? I wonder maybe at a very, very, high price point if you almost kind of revert back to people feeling like you need to be on call all of the time. I have heard that from other clients, that the more they charge, the more on-call they have to be, the more needy or impatient people are. And I think it just depends on the industry. But I do feel like once you can figure out your sweet spot, even at a high ticket level, man, you can just soar, baby. It’s like your business is easy, it’s fun, and it really makes the difference for sure.

Sterling Valentine: So in a lot of the other sessions, we’ve talked about the mindset aspects, as well as some practical, tactical information on how to actually get yourself to charging high ticket pricing and offering high ticket premium offers. But let’s take a look at the rest of the business. Okay, Sterling, I get it. I need to try and charge high ticket prices. I need to have premium offers. Okay. I’ve signed on, I’ve even maybe designed my first offer, whether it’s a mastermind group or a VIP day or some kind of really high-end info product or something. But now I’m faced with looking at the rest of my business and saying, what do I do with all of this? Where do I start? What are some areas that I should look at from a practical, tactical perspective? What are some of the first places I want to tighten up in my game and start to raise my level, in all of my different areas? Because it can be very confusing. Where should I start?

Amber Vilhauer: Website, that’s the first thing coming to my mind right now because your website is really the hub and heart of everything else that you do online, your social media marketing efforts, your podcasting, your video marketing, your email marketing, products that you put out, and programs. All of these, people ultimately need to come back to your website. So I think your website is something that you always need to be paying strong attention to no matter what level of your business that you’re at, and I think it’s even important practice to go into your website once a quarter, and really look at your website as if you were a thousand visitors that didn’t know you or what you are doing and think, how can I improve here? Is my opt-in box desirable? Is my opt-in offer even something that I would want? And if not, if you’re questioning it, survey your audience, find out what their number one most burning question is and make a free offer that answers that question, right? So even updating your offers, putting in fresh content, making sure that your design really speaks to who you are right now. Because something we don’t always think about is that we are constantly growing as human beings. Our business is always evolving and so, therefore, our website should be constantly growing, and evolving and we should be making tweaks and putting in that fresh content or updating your photo.

If your photo doesn’t look anything like you, it’s time for new a photo. Going back into your website and looking at your past blog posts and are those still relevant? Something that I did to my website last summer, and it wasn’t fun, but I went through every single blog post I had ever written, hundreds of them, I scanned them all. I extracted out any data that was outdated or that wasn’t relevant to my current brand or message or if there was a broken link, I fixed it because again, this is people’s first impression of you, just like that initial sales call or that initial touchpoint. 

This is people’s first impression. They get on your website, and they get the sense that it’s outdated, or they have broken links, or it just doesn’t feel like they’re going to get the latest, greatest information, then they’re probably not going to progress through your funnel system to get to that high ticket. So I would say, you know what, alarms are sounding that your website is something you should always be paying strong attention to in your business.

Sterling Valentine: I guess the first thing we should look for is the glaring inconsistencies, right? So for example, I saw a YouTube video of a guy talking about, he’s some kind of wealth attraction mentor who’s going to help you attract all this money, and I am not kidding, bedroom closet door open behind him with clothes all hanging off the hangers and a treadmill.

Amber Vilhauer: Are you kidding me?

Sterling Valentine: No, I’m not kidding. And a treadmill with clothes draped all over it in the back, and he’s just playing with a pen and in one of those circle chairs kind of going back and forth. So you can make all this money, and I just thought, are you even looking at what you look like? You don’t have to go put a lot, a ton of money into production, but where are the glaring inconsistencies? Do you have a treadmill with clothes hanging off of it in your background? To start with, look for those kinds of areas, things where, what would be the one thing if you are a cynical person or if you were maybe a not fearful but concerned person or you had a little bit of anxiety, is this purchase right for me? That kind of thing. Is this person the right fit for me? What would be the one thing that you might seize on and say, that might give me some pause or some problems and then work on that. So, we have the website is the number one place we want to look.

Do we have any tips or techniques, that we can use to dress up our website, or make it seem a little more premium, or high ticket, or a high level, that you could think of that might be easy for folks to do, to kind of put together really quickly from a tactical standpoint, to sort of start to feel like they’re adding a little more polish to their site?

Amber Vilhauer: Well, the first thing that comes to mind actually is that you may be too close to it, to where you really don’t know what to do. And I see that happening all the time because the people that knock on my door, they don’t know what they don’t know, but they know that I know. They know that I’ve built four hundred websites in my career of owning this company, and I am constantly doing research, I’m constantly studying the trends. I’m seeing what is out there that’s working and not working, from not only a design perspective, but a copywriting perspective and a conversion rate perspective. 

So I will start with, if you really don’t know if your website rocks or not, then you should hire somebody to come in and give you an evaluation. I do these website audits, and I love doing these, they are so much fun. I’m such a geek. I turn on Camtasia, the screen recording software, and it goes through page by page, step by step of that website. And I talk about these are the things that are working for you, these are the things that are not working. Here are some suggestions that you can consider for these areas. And I do it usually in about 45 minutes.

So you could get something like that, whether it’s me or somebody else. That part doesn’t matter unless it’s somebody that’s actually qualified, that’s an important part of it. But get some outside opinions. The ones that matter is the most important thing because you could ask any Tom, Dick or Harry, and they’re all going to have opinions, and they’re all going to be different, and largely they’re going to be wrong. So hire a website designer or developer who actually has experience in getting results with websites. But I would say outside of that, that usually, the first red flag tends to be the design because for example, what we’re seeing in website design right now, for most website types out there, is you’re seeing those 100% with big sections that have like a nice beautiful background image or video backgrounds are definitely coming to surface right now. But bigger sections, less content, more imagery focused that really tell the story from a visual perspective.

Even five years ago it was all content-based, but now it’s much more visual. People also want to see  video of you. If people go to your website and see video of you, that automatically elevates you because so many people are afraid of doing video, they don’t look good on video. They are, whatever their issue is with video. And I’m definitely a person that practices what I preach. So if you go to my website at insightfuldevelopment.com you can’t really go many places without seeing video of Amber. And it’s not an ego thing. It’s because that’s how we’re going to build that connection and that trust so that you are encouraged to sign up for my email list or trust a high ticket offer that I’m creating or a low-end offer that I’m creating. It’s that entry point. So I guess to sum up, I would say look at your graphics. Are you visually telling the story? Making sure that your content is compelling and add a video. Those are some easy ways to get started.

Sterling Valentine: Those are some pretty easy quick ways to get started. That’s great. So these are great tips so far Amber, this is exactly what I was looking for.

Amber Vilhauer: Okay, then.

Sterling Valentine: I want to talk about two other big important areas that I feel are important and that’s onboarding and customer support. So onboarding is when we first bring on a customer or a client, what is their experience? You know, we don’t have this sort of constant never-ending experience with a business, even though it feels like we do. The truth is we have these peak moments, right? And the two usual peak moments are when you first sign up or purchase the service or product or whatever it is, and you first get on-boarded and then whenever you might have a problem or an issue or a reason to connect for support.

Amber Vilhauer: So true.

Sterling Valentine: So for onboarding, let’s take a look at some really good best practices. We already kind of touched on it a little bit when I said I like to just call my clients and I recommend anybody who’s doing any premium offers, any high ticket offers. If you can take five minutes and call somebody and just say, hey, it’s me, did you get your links? That goes a long way. So we kind of covered that already, but what are some of the best practices that you’ve seen when you’ve worked… I know you’ve worked with a lot of New York Times bestselling authors. What are some onboarding practices or techniques that you’ve seen that we can adapt to our own businesses when we’re starting to offer premium pricing and premium products?

Amber Vilhauer: I think it’s about the immediacy in which you connect with people. I mean, that’s been my experience. So for example, when somebody comes onboard with me, I immediately send them the next steps email, I’m very positive, I’m upbeat about here’s what we can do next. I’m so grateful for the opportunity, I appreciate your trust in me, I don’t take that lightly, I won’t let you down, you know, reassuring them. But I think it’s the immediacy in which you offer that first next step or the deliverable when it comes to a product or a program. Let’s say I signed up for a membership site, I don’t want to wait and wait and try to figure out how to get access to my account and all, and tomorrow you’ll hear back from me with this other piece, like, just give it to me now, I’m excited. I just bought, what’s the next step? And you want to roll with that and keep that momentum going. 

So I tend to give more right upfront so that people feel like they got the value. I’m on my A-game, that follow-through is really important. Similar to your phone call idea, I actually write a personalized, handwritten thank you card every time that somebody buys from me and I had these cards made up, that I designed and it’s just a black card, and it says you rock, in these big blue letters, and then you open it up and I write a handwritten thank you, and I include my business card with that. And you would not believe the impression that that makes on people. That I actually took the 30 seconds to write something. I mean, it wasn’t a big deal for me. I was just expressing my gratitude. But for them, people just don’t do that anymore.

So be thinking to yourself, how can I stand out? How can I go that one extra step and make them feel valued? Whether it’s an email that’s not automated, a phone call, a thank you card, and just making sure that they feel supported along the way. So if, here again, you’ve got them into some sort of high-end ticket program or membership site, you have the deliverables the first day, but then maybe on the next day send a quick follow-up and just, hey, just wanted to make sure you were able to log into the membership site okay. Or that you feel comfortable connecting inside of the Facebook group. Let me know any questions that you have and I’m happy to walk you through it, so you feel more comfortable. 

And yes. Could that take you a little bit of extra time in the beginning with hand-holding? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. Because now you’ve got a customer for life, here again, they feel supported, they’re going to share their experience with other people and you want that to be a positive one right out of the gate. So it’s important to spend a little bit of extra time in the beginning during onboarding.

 Sterling Valentine: Absolutely. You know there’s a great service called Send Out Cards, and I can probably put a link here on the page to it, and they allow you to do what seems to be a handwritten card, but you still type it in, and it puts it like a handwritten font in there. You could send cards. I’ve sent postcards very often. John Lee Dumas actually sends out a card, a welcome card and a pack of brownies from Send Out Cards for joining one of his pro membership programs that I joined a few years back. 

So you know, these are great automated ways that are still scalable for you, that you can even have an assistant or something take the name and address from let’s say your credit card company, your processing company or the receipt and put that into the Send Out Cards system and have them automatically send that out. You can even put in campaigns where it can send out a week later and then ten days later or something like that. And you can have multiple campaigns, especially when lot of times you get a client, and then they might not show up for a particular thing or they are busy, and you’re trying to get a hold of them, you can switch them over to a, hey, I haven’t been able to reach you campaign. So these are great refund prevention ways as well, because refund prevention is actually a profit center in itself. It’s like found money if you can prevent a refund. So there’s that. 

A couple of the things I wanted to add to what you were saying, some great tips that you gave, were that I think contextualization is hugely important and very often overlooked. We want to know what the next step is. What do I expect, and I want to see what you’re telling me in the context of everything else. So when you get your baseline questionnaire, you’ll fill it out and then we’ll review it in this onboarding call where we’ll do an intake session, and then we’ll lead into this. So that I kind of see the path laid out ahead of me, and I’ll know, so this is what to expect next. So context is very important, and processes are important because what I’ve seen oftentimes, is people will do this, like this blurb, like a dump of just a bunch of stuff, like, hey, welcome to the program. Here are 72 different links to check.

Amber Vilhauer: Oh, I know, yeah.

Sterling Valentine: And then the person says, man, maybe this is a little too much. There’s no process. There’s no like step one is this, step two is that, so I even have sometimes visual process maps, like where we start here, like a little bit of a game board, like Candyland, we start here and you do this, then this happens, and you go around the corner here, and then this happens, and then you’re at the finish line. So these are very important as well. So any other tips you want to add to the onboarding process before we move on to support?

Amber Vilhauer: I just have to say I’m feeling very validated right now because everything that you’re coming back on, I am like yes, I do that in my business. I don’t even know that I can add a whole lot to it because those are all things that I do. I send out the onboarding email immediately. I do tell them the next steps and then the next steps beyond that, I don’t give them too much upfront which they appreciate, I give them reassurance that I’m going to, once we’re done with this stage, I’ll give you all the information for the next stage. So here again, building that trust, building that relationship along the way. And I feel like so many people try to overcomplicate everything and it really can be as simple as just these tactics that we’re talking about here today. And if you just cover the baseline, things like treating your customers well, having follow through, doing what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it, those simple things. Most people don’t do those simple things. So automatically, it’s going to separate you from the competition and lead to a lasting customer relationship with your following. So I think that’s great.

Sterling Valentine: I was going to add maybe one or two more little quick onboarding tips that I just remembered while you were speaking and then we’ll move on to support. So first one is, I don’t often do this. I probably should do it more often, but occasionally, especially when I’m making a lot of videos anyway on my business, I will do a special welcome video. Hi Amber, it’s Sterling, I just wanted to welcome you to the VIP program. Thanks for joining. I wanted to take a minute to welcome you personally. You can shoot these with your webcam like we’re doing this now, or you could take a selfie video or even on a selfie stick while you’re walking around town and just say, hey, Bob, I wanted to welcome you. You can knock out a bunch of them very quickly. I’ve seen people attach them to emails. I don’t prefer that. I prefer to have them on a particular page. You can even put it on a welcome page with the instructions and steps so that there’s this kind of like combination thing happening. So that’s very important.

And I just picked up this new mini-teleprompter. It’s like a very, very small teleprompter screen. So what I want to try to do is work in my personal welcomes with a couple of the other things that I have to communicate, but make sure that I put the personal welcome kind of off the top of my head, which I want to be spontaneous, especially if I’ve had any previous contact with the person. Hey, it was great meeting you at this event or whatever, so it’s not all canned, but then there are other things that I want to remember to say that I don’t want to leave up to just my memory, kind of winging it. So I may try to create a list as a sort of experiment with a welcome message at the front of it, and then I just wanted to also remind you of these following five things, and then have the little teleprompter part go. 

So, there’s a lot of ways you can go, and you really can’t make too many mistakes. Nobody’s ever overdosed on onboarding and customer care upfront. Nobody’s ever said, hey, you know, I paid you a lot of money, but you gave me way too much welcome here. I want my money back. There’s no overdose. There’s only underdosing on it, right?

So let’s move into support, which is a big area for you, and I know you’re super good at this. So let’s maybe start before we go into some tips, let’s look at the ways that it goes wrong with the problems that usually people have. Where are people making mistakes in their support system, their support experience that they’re giving their customers? And then we can try to take a look at some of the ways that we can actually fix that.

Amber Vilhauer: Oh gosh, there’s so much coming to mind right now. Actually something I wanted to tie into what you just said before and actually also makes sense now, is that I feel like some people can be really strong in onboarding, but then as the customer goes through the relationship, they get a little lazy and they stop. You know, because we’re so focused on how do I get the next new customer and we forget to nurture our existing customers. So, something that I might do is when I have that next big phase of deliverable, I will send a video at that point. 

So for example, let’s say that I did the first phase of a project and I’m saying, okay, here’s the report I made for you, or whatever. I would even do a quick little video, here again, just that touchpoint, simple for me to do. And it’s not a customized video for everybody. It’s just a one-time video that you get at this point in the process. But it could be me, hey, I just wanted to say thank you so much again for your trust and your faith in us. As you see, we’ve just delivered this report and I wanted to walk through a couple of important points so that we’re on the same page and so that I can educate you along the way because it’s really important to me that you feel supported. And I’m validating here again all of the reasons why they wanted to hire me in the first place. I’m justifying the program, the price, the support, building that relationship even further. So even a video that you can create at different touchpoints, throughout the cycle of them being a customer, can be a huge additional support that they weren’t expecting.

But another thing that came up support-wise, that I think a lot of people struggle with is the follow up. And that’s so huge. Most people don’t follow up. So for example, let’s say that somebody had an issue logging into your membership site and you got it resolved. Then what’s to say somebody couldn’t follow up a week from now and say, hey, just wanted to confirm you’re still being able to log into that membership site okay. Is there anything else I can do for you? Most people would never follow up on something like that. Why? Because it takes extra time and therefore costs extra money. But here again, if that customer gets an email like that, they’re going to think, whoa, who does that? Nobody does that. Wow, I should really stay here. They nurture me, they take good care of me, and they follow up with me. 

So follow up is huge, and yet most companies don’t even have the most basic understanding of the support reply down where they just don’t reply at all, and then you’re left here with this issue. You can’t log in or you’re struggling to download this product. And what happens is nothing can light up a negative review fire, faster than you not replying to somebody’s issue or concern because it just escalates so quickly. If they have to send a second email to you, hey, just following up again because I still can’t get in, you’re in hot water. So it’s time to do some damage control whether you realize it or not and it’s important that you then come in at that point, handle their concern, possibly offer them something for free, definitely follow up with them and you know a couple of days or a week from then, make sure that that has been settled and then it’s a one-time instance. So I would say, that’s huge for me, and my company is making sure that people are really taken care of along the way, that we have quick follow up and that we checked, circle back around, and make sure everything’s good in the future too.

Sterling Valentine: Sounds great. I often recommend, Amber, that my students and clients get a help desk installed sooner rather than later. What is your take on how soon somebody should move into a help desk and away from straight email support?

Amber Vilhauer: I think it’s really up to that business owner because I feel like if you are in a situation where everything seems really disorganized, and things are falling through the cracks, yes you need a help desk and that can happen very early on in a business, or it could be a business like mine where I still don’t have a help desk. Irks me to even say that sincerely, but we tend to manage it very well via email. Yet a lot of my colleagues all have help desks, too. So I think it’s really a personal decision based on how you are organized in your company, how your team works off of that organization. At the end of the day, as long as your customers are getting the support that they need when they need it, then try anything, you know, really.

Sterling Valentine: Well, it’s not surprising that it’s working for you without one because (A) you have a large organization and (B) you’re very hands-on, on top of, and ahead of a lot of the emails. So, a lot of the solo practitioners, a lot of the lone warriors out there who are just sort of in charge of everything on their own, that’s when a help desk can come in handy more often because it puts a ticket number on everything. It tracks. It sort of creates an instance, a little FedEx envelope with a tracking number for every single time that somebody touchpoints with you. And it’s a lot easier to stay on top of it as compared to, I sent you an email and it went into the spam folder or you didn’t see it or something because they’re not accounted for in the same way. 

So, that’s one of the suggestions I make, now if you’re like Amber, which not too many people are, but if you are really, really good at this and ahead of this, then maybe you don’t need a help desk. But there are a lot of other areas that you can do help, for example, for a while there, and I’ve been going back and forth with this. Depending on the level of clientele, I’ve had an answering service to be able to take a 24-hour message, and there are certain situations where it’s an emergency, and they would ring me, kind of like a doctor’s office does. Have you seen any of your clients do that, like quick turnaround phone support or answering services or anything like that from a phone, voicemail kind of nature?

Amber Vilhauer: Not so much, honestly. Even like the higher celebrity type clients, I’m not seeing that a whole lot. They do have help desks or something like that, or they have a support team that’s handling emails. But I just feel like people, in general, are getting away from phone conversations, which is precisely why you should probably do it because you’ll stand out from the competition in a good way. But I’m not seeing that a whole lot at this point, personally.

Sterling Valentine: So what else can we do around our support to actually make it super-premium level? What other stuff have you seen that really works and will put a shine on our business and make us feel like we’re congruent so that we’re charging premium prices and we’re showing up in a premium way?

Amber Vilhauer: I think you could make suggestions, if you’re a service-based business, that’s kind of coming to mind. My clients hire me for a variety of different tasks and largely they just want to buy a big chunk of time and have me there for when they need me for whatever that is. But it’s a great support if I can then come in every once in a while, Like I have a client, Dr. Shiroko, and things had settled down a little bit. She’s in between launches and I thought, how can I be a better support to Shiroko right now? So I sent her a quick email and I said, hey, would you like me to take a look at your business and see what areas you could be improving upon? She freaked out. I mean, she was so happy that I made that suggestion, because most people don’t do that. They just sit around and wait to be told what to do. But I like to take a more proactive stance. 

So what I did is I spent a little time, and I had dug around, I looked at her website, looked at her blog, her social media, checked out her opt-in offers, and I sent her an email that was pretty comprehensive. And I said, I really think we could focus on these areas. You’re doing a great job on these areas, I am so proud of you. So there’s definitely a part of building that person up and showing them what they’re doing right? Because how many times do we feel behind the curve or we’re not doing enough or it’s not good enough or whatever? So if we can offer that encouragement, it’s a good thing. And she came back, and she said, I definitely want to move forward with these things. Thank you so much. She felt incredibly supported.

And how hard was it for me to send out a quick email? Hey, would you like me to take a look at your platform and see what we could improve upon? And if she had said, no, I’m good, cool, okay, go on to the next person and see if I can help them. So I think taking a proactive standpoint, and if you’re not a service-based business, you could be doing that in coaching. You could be doing that with even a sort of mastermind or a membership program. I mean, you can be proactive in anything that you’re doing, but most people don’t do that. Especially because here again, we’re always searching for how do I make a bigger email list or get new clients? But there’s so much money that you’re missing out on, and such an opportunity that you’re missing out on, just with the people you already have. I mean, I have new clients, Sterling, that have 50 people on their email list and they’re not emailing them. And I think, are you nuts? That’s 50 people. If you were in front of a stage in front of 50 people, you just wouldn’t do anything? Like, it’s not about the size necessarily, it’s about the quality of the list in my opinion, and the quality of the customer base. The more you can nurture them and be proactive in your support, the more you can grow a serious empire. I mean, I’m not kidding you. It can be pretty impressive.

Sterling Valentine: I know you’ve been at this for many years. You’re incredibly successful at it. You’ve got a waiting list of top-level people who want to work with you. So if you could wave your magic wand and just give me like the top five or ten things I could do, that I should at least look at to really make sure that the rest of my business is of a premium level too, what would you say would be sort of your final wrap up suggestions to say, definitely look at this, do this, try this, have this, let’s put it on a nutshell for everybody?

Amber Vilhauer: Wow. I wish I had more time to prepare that answer because it’s such an important one. But I would say, the things that we already spoke about that are important would be your customer service, making sure that you’re organized, making sure that you have support for the client load coming in, making sure that your website looks good, and then I would really have you look at the different touchpoints in your business. What’s happening on social media, where are you showing up? And it’s tricky to give this advice too, Sterling, because everybody I talk to is so different. They’re in such different situations. Some people have a team to support them, some people are working alone. Some people have really high ticket offerings, some people are just trying to get into it. So my advice would be different for everybody. But at the end of the day, you really have to make sure that that foundation is set up for success, which includes those things that I just talked about. But it can even include your mindset.

Look back in your past and think what happens when challenges arise in my business? How do I show up for that? Because if you’re a person that crumbles under pressure, you don’t handle challenges well, then that could be a problem as you continue to grow and scale and offer higher ticket items. So I guess if it were me, I’d be really looking at what’s working in my business as a whole and what’s not working. What do I find is easy, and what do I find is challenging? And for those things that I find is challenging, whether it’s customer support or website tweaks or social media, whatever it is, then either spend some time in those areas and get better at them so that your confidence grows or hire that out.

And everybody needs help, so there’s no harm, there’s nothing wrong with hiring out, as long as you’re hiring people that believe in you, and are organized and willing to go to the extra mile to help you grow to that next level. So many people struggle with the concept of hiring out because they think, I can’t afford it right now. But oftentimes if I look at a business, you can’t afford not to hire out because the time that you are spending doing these things that you shouldn’t be doing, you should be off monetizing, creating products and building relationships. Those are the three things that I would have you focus on. But the little website changes or the social media stuff, I mean, a lot of that stuff you can outsource and as long as you’re not distracted and wasting your time in areas that you shouldn’t be spending your time on and you’re focused on those money-making activities, those relationship-building activities, you’ll actually make money by hiring out.

So hire out the things that are challenging for you or that don’t feel like you’re in ease, are in flow doing and then get back to the fun things for you. And that’s only going to help this thing grow and scale even higher. So I know I’m a little all over the mark there, but I think it’s looking at the foundational pieces of your business, making sure that that’s strong, because once your foundation is strong, your website’s humming, your social media is humming, video or blogging is humming, your customer support is humming, you have a process in place where people can enter into your business, and then what do they do next and what do they do next after that, and after that? 

Once you have a clear path for your customers, the sky is the limit, baby, with how much you can grow this thing. And you could be offering so many different types of high ticket offerings, whether it’s a mastermind, a membership, there are so many different things you can do. That’s when it gets really fun to be an entrepreneur because you just get to create all the time. And that’s what we all want to do anyway, so that’s some random all over the place advice for you, but hopefully some nuggets in there.

Sterling Valentine: Not at all. It’s perfect. Well said, and you reminded me, one of the best things I think we can do is to take a look at some of the experts that we admire, some of the people that are charging high ticket prices in our industry and poke around a little bit, see if we can model some of the things that they’ve already discovered that’s very helpful. So you might see somebody has a frequently asked questions or something that might be helpful, whether they have video testimonials, even on the support areas, just to give a sense of a calm, reassuring presence even in the support areas and not just in the marketing areas.

And finally, I found that even if we get back to people in a support scenario, even if you have somebody getting back to people who say, we got your message, I don’t have the answer to that right now, but I can get it for you. Just the fact that somebody is responsive, at minimum is worth the few dollars and hour that it costs you to get somebody to respond. Even if they don’t have an answer, the fact is you’re just on top of things, and they can say, I’m not really sure yet, but I’ll get back to you right away. I’ll go research that and find out. So even a sort of a non-answer is better than a no answer at all. Would you agree?

Amber Vilhauer: One hundred perfect, I mean, that’s so true. And even if I don’t know the answer, it’s like, hey, you know, that’s a great question. I am tied up on calls today, but let me get back to you tomorrow, and I’ll spend that time researching or whatever I need to do. As long as people know what to expect, they’re cool. They’ll wait. Even if I have to say you know what I’m happy to help you with that, but I’m going out of town for the next few days. Can I get back to you on next Tuesday? Oh, sure. Take your time. But if they don’t hear from you, that’s when people, it’s like they get pissed at you, or they get frustrated or disappointed or they’re just not going to wait around. As long as you tell people what to expect and follow through at that time. You’re set, you’re completely set. And I just want to touch on one other thing that you said about modelling after people because you’re right, that’s such a great thing to do. 

I’m always looking at what other people are doing, how they’re doing it, what’s making the difference. And I don’t copy it obviously, but I look at it and think, I like this piece of what they did. Now how can I take that idea and spin off of it and create my own thing out of it? So I use it as just an inspiration more than anything, but just be careful of comparing yourself to others because this is a trap that so many entrepreneurs get into. And I just had to make a comment about it because you might be looking at these people, at these interviews, looking at the people that are so successful and making so much money and you might feel less than, you might feel like you’re struggling with it.

But I’ll first tell you the grass is not greener on the other side. So everybody has challenges, everybody has fears, but it’s what you do with that information or those feelings that really makes the difference. But just trying to realize that these people who are ahead of you, they had to start at the beginning just like you did too. So just be careful of that comparison and just get inspiration, glean off of different things that they’re doing and work hard and implement it, and you’ll be there in absolutely no time at all, but just don’t waste time getting caught up into comparison. I just had to say that, Sterling.

Sterling Valentine: That’s such great advice, and this is the challenge, is that, when people say I can’t wait to do some high ticket stuff, and then they look, and they say, wow, this is too big for me, and then they back out. That’s the wrong approach. So like a little bit, incremental steps, baby steps, just get there as you can agreed?

Amber Vilhauer: 100%. I’m living proof of that story. I mean it’s very daunting. When you look at the end goal, the end goal is I want to make $1 million this year or 10 million or $100,000 whatever your goal is at the end of this year, that can look, oh my God, how am I going to do that? It’s overwhelming, but if you break it down and just decision by decision, day by day, piece by piece, it builds over time, and you’ll get there no problem. But I feel like so many people over-complicate, they get distracted, and they don’t follow through. Entrepreneurs love creating. But that last piece of execution, oh man, it is like pulling teeth to get people to finish that last leg, of any project because I don’t know. It could be fear of success or failure. It can be fear of exposure or your head just starts playing games with you. 

Oh, my God. What if it doesn’t work? What if nobody cares what I have to say? Oh my gosh somebody else has a product that’s similar to this. Now, what am I going to do? And those thoughts just magnify and stop you dead in your tracks. So just be very careful of what you’re thinking about because your mindset’s pretty delicate and sensitive and you just have to follow through anyway. Set out, hit the goal, put on your big girl or big boy pants and get it done. And you’ll be amazed at what happens. The only difference between successful people and people that are struggling, in my opinion, is follow-through. It’s taking action. That’s the only difference. So just take that advice and hopefully, that helps you when you get sucked down the road. Because it happens to all of us, right? Me, Sterling, I’m sure. No, Sterling is probably pretty perfect. I don’t know.

Sterling Valentine: No guts. No glory.

Amber Vilhauer: Hey, exactly, yup.

Sterling Valentine: That’s the name of Amber’s… NGNG, you can look that up. But anyway, listen, Amber. I know you’re in crazy demand. I know you’ve got a waiting list, it’s probably going to be very difficult for somebody if they want to be able to work with you to be able to actually get a hold of you. But let’s say for the sake of argument that you get a break and you can actually take on a couple of clients here and there. What are some ways we can get in touch with you? What would you typically want to see happen? Hey, I might want to tap into Amber as a mentor or for the support division of her firm, what would you suggest they do? Where would they look?

Amber Vilhauer: Well, I’m just going to say that we’ll always find a way to take people on because I am in this business to help people. And if I get too busy where I can’t even do the very thing that got me in this business, to begin with, then that’s a problem. So I’ve just gotten so good at creating systems and procedures in my business, thank you, Eric Graham, I always have to give him kudos, that we can handle just about anything. So definitely don’t hesitate to reach out if your project is big or small, if you don’t even know what the project looks like. If you just want some mentoring, if you need website changes, social media support, you want an audit done, definitely head over to insightfuldevelopment.com, that’s our primary website where, videos galore. You’ll see a video on the homepage talking about everything that we offer. 

And then we have individual service pages for all of the different services that we offer. Each has a video explaining the depths of those services and how we can support you, the timeline, the process. You can sign up for our service menu, where we believe in full transparency, so we give our pricing out right upfront. Nothing to hide here. And if you want, we can set up a discovery call, just a 30-minute call and get to know each other and you could tell me about your project and your needs, and we work together to get it done, whatever that looks like. So it’s different. The path is different for every single client that comes in, and we’re really just happy to dig in and help you get your message out to the world and monetize in a bigger way. So happy to have the conversation with anybody.

Sterling Valentine: Yeah, if you can at all get Amber on your team, even in a small way, it’s going to be like a rocket booster for your business. Amber, thank you for joining us today.

Amber Vilhauer: No, this was awesome. Thank you for the opportunity, and for everybody listening here today, please reach out to me even just to say hi or tell me what you thought because I really dig that feedback and that connection. That’s why I do what I do. So thanks for listening.

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